Lydia, the indie brainchild of Arizona native Leighton Antelman, has released four studio albums, a homemade tour EP, and now an acoustic EP of re-worked songs, entitled Acoustics ’12. With their most recent release, the band sidesteps the minimal instrumentation and obligatory stomp-claps of the typical “acoustic EP.”
“I’ve Never Seen A Witch,” the EP’s opener and standout track, is a dreamy underwater ballad showcasing Antelman’s Nate Ruess-esque vocals over dense, gentle keyboards and minimalist drumming. Superb tension is created by the song’s loose dynamic space and emotional chord progressions, and passion is furthered by Antelman’s lively vocal expression.
“Best Nights” follows, trading drums for gentle acoustic guitars and toning down the density of the keyboard. The guitar strumming is noticeably restrained in order to fit within the lullaby confines of the song’s shell, but the playing still sounds effortless. Keyboard dances in and out of frame without distracting from Antelman’s vocals, although they could use some distraction—in this song in particular Antelman sounds awkwardly haughty and snide as his emotive presentation dances over “Still wishin’ I was inside your bedroom/Talking shit for the hell of it” and “God damn that just feels right.”
“We Clean Up So Well” and “Skin + Bones” are both simple, tender acoustic tracks. The former features a pleasant surprise cameo from the keyboard during the bridge when the acoustic guitar drops out. Subtle snaps in the last chorus nestle perfectly into the mix. “Skin + Bones” is a warm ballad in which Antelman allows himself a few gleeful melodic leaps during the verse. Combined with bouncing “ooh’s,” the song carries a delightfully innocent, lighthearted tone.
Though not quite as noteworthy as “I’ve Never Seen a Witch,” “Hailey” nicely rounds out the EP with creative instrumentation and dynamically varied vocal melodies. The verses inch forward with gorgeously reverberant piano and flowing mid-range vocals, then the chorus marches gently at the will of flutelike synths and a low, hushed vocal line that draws in the listener. Overall, Lydia has succeeded in their latest endeavor. Emotive vocals, creative instrumentation, and dynamically soothing production make the Acoustics ’12 EP a perfect end to a long night.
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